Well the 2nd Annual Rooster Run Ice Fishing Tournament out of Skunk Bay was this past weekend. My brother Nick and I entered the tournament as the "Sauger Slayers" and we lived up to that name pretty well! The tournament had 46 2-person teams that were allowed to fish anywhere from Bear Den Bay to Independence Point on Lake Sakakawea. The tournament was 2 days with fishing taking place Saturday from 12pm-8pm and then Sunday from 12am(midnight)-12pm(noon). It can be an exhausting tournament if you want to fish hard or you can sit back and relax and have a good time! Dave had put in a TON of work to make this tournament great this year and he had a huge amount of door prizes! Thanks for all the hard work Dave! I'm already looking forward to next year!
Now onto the fishing details! We had pre-fished many spots from Skunk Bay to Bear Den. Our quest started out looking for a good walleye bite for the primetime morning and evening bites that traditionally come with ice fishing. Our efforts found many walleye but there was one SMALL problem. The walleyes were abundant, but SMALL. (Although that does mean there are more good things to come for Lake Sakakawea!) We then turned our attention to saugers. We found a few different spots where we could get saugers and we found them in many depths. One morning pre-fishing I caught our biggest sauger in 13 feet and our 2nd biggest in 58 feet! The structure was steep and rocky near the old river channel. Places near the old river channel are always good places to try especially ice fishing. We decided that we would focus on deeper water during the day and then move up to try and get a decent walleye or 2 at dark.
Saturday at noon we had all our stuff set up and ready to go. We made swiss cheese of the ice drilling 50+ holes Saturday afternoon. The bite was a little bit different than normal with the fish biting really well from 1-3 in the afternoon. We had 4, 19-21 inch saugers and a 21.5 inch walleye by 2:50 and were looking forward to see the evening bite and a couple bigger fish to upgrade. Well for some reason the evening bite was a lot slower than normal and we only caught 4 fish but 1 was a 20 inch sauger which moved our weight up slightly and we finished the day with 15.15 pounds and in 2nd place. The leaders had a dandy limit of walleyes weighing in at 20 pounds and change.
At midnight we hit the ice again hoping to find a couple nice walleyes to help us catch the leaders. Overnight we had a problem with one of our heaters(just like last year) so one house relied on the lantern for heat! But luckily it was a beautiful night and we took turns in the warmer house if needed. The overnight bite was nothing special, we only marked a couple fish but nick did manage a 8 pound northern at 3:30am, which was the 2nd biggest northern of the day winning us 60 bucks!!! We started the morning bite after moving a tip-up at 6:30am and instantly catching a 19 inch sauger! The morning bite then was good until about 10:30. We caught close to 30 saugers but the size was a little bit smaller than Saturday, but we did manage to catch 5 between 18 and 21 inches. Our total weight for Sunday was 13.22 pounds which gave us a total of 28.37 pounds, which was good enough to keep us in 2nd place! The leaders from day 1 caught 9 pounds and change and ended with 30.5 pounds. Congratulations to the champions as they have accomplished a very tough task of winning back to back years!
Our fish were again scattered and to combat that problem we constantly drilled new holes if were weren't getting bites. If we didn't get a bite within a minute after fishing a new hole we would move onto the next. The saugers would bite just about any lure, and they loved it when you would pound it on the bottom. Many times they would be hanging on it when we picked it off the bottom right after dropping it down the hole. Depths again ranged from 13-61 feet but our most consistent depths were from 35-55 feet. Again the big key for us was staying mobile. It can be tiring but can change a 3-6 fish day into a 20-30 fish day! There is still about a month of good ice fishing left so get out and enjoy it while you can, but as always be careful out there the ice can be unpredictable.